Scott Hardie | September 7, 2017
People keep asking after Kelly and me as Irma approaches. (We Floridians are on a first-name basis with our storms.) I am grateful for the thoughts and for the nice things people are saying. I thought it would be best to answer in one place; plus, I can post updates here afterwards.

We're in Bradenton, about halfway down the Gulf coast, away from the worst of the storm but definitely still in an affected area. Our plans keep changing as the direction of the storm keeps changing. We're going to make a final go/no-go decision tomorrow morning and stick to it.

If we evacuate, we have a hotel room already booked in Birmingham, and it won't take us long to pack our stuff and get out. The driving will be dire; what's normally a 9-hour drive could be more like 15-20 hours with bumper-to-bumper congestion, and there are the added nuisances of gas shortages and a screaming cat (she doesn't travel well) along the way. Tomorrow will redefine "hell on wheels" if we go for it, but at least we'll have the peace of mind that we're safe once we arrive.

If we stay, we're prepared to hunker down at home to wait out the storm, and we're stocked with supplies to go without power and water for 5-7 days afterward. Our neighbors on both sides have generators that they're willing to share with us. We'll also be prepared to head to emergency shelters if the storm takes a last-minute turn right for us. The house should be safe; we're well outside of the storm surge range, there are no large trees on our property, and we have hurricane-proofed windows. I think we'd be fine staying, but I admit I'm nervous.

I'll update when I get a chance. This storm is going to hit a broad swath of southern states besides just Florida, so for anybody reading this who's in the path, you stay safe too.

Scott Hardie | September 8, 2017
We have chosen to stay. We're not supposed to evacuate, and it may not be possible to leave anyway. The storm is currently projected to weaken and only be a category 2 by the time it arrives by us... however, the trend in the forecasts does have me worried. (If it keeps drifting westward at its current rate, then by the time it arrives, the storm will be over the Gulf and thus stronger, plus Bradenton will be on its eastern and more dangerous side. We'll see.)

Regardless, Kelly and I are prepared with all of the supplies that we can think of to get, and we have only a few chores left to get ready for the storm's arrival on Sunday evening. We'll probably be without power for a few days afterward, so don't expect me to be around the site for a while next week. I'll be on and off this weekend.

Matthew Preston | September 8, 2017
Hunker down and stay safe my friend. Glad to know you're prepared.

Chris Lemler | September 8, 2017
Stay safe Scott

LaVonne Lemler | September 8, 2017
Thanks, Scott, for the info --- not an easy decision to make either way; we'll hope for the best.
Take care and be safe!

Steve West | September 8, 2017
Irma appears to be a particularly sadistic proctologist with her fist prepared to be shoved up Florida's behind up to her elbow. Coast -to-coast hurricane winds predicted - stay safe, my friend.

Scott Hardie | September 9, 2017
Thank you, everybody! Hearing from people has unexpectedly meant a lot. I feel guilty for not even thinking to send well wishes to friends in Texas affected by Harvey, including Joanna & Justin. We shouldn't have to wait for these kinds of events to say how much we care... but as long as we're on the subject, I really care about all of you, every single one of you here on Funeratic. You each mean a lot to me.

Irma update: Deciding to stay was a mistake, as the storm has only gotten stronger and (from our perspective) more dangerously positioned since then, but it's too late now. We're as well-situated as we can be. Tomorrow starts the roller coaster; 30mph winds at dawn, gradually getting worse until the full brunt of the storm is felt from 9pm Sunday through 3am Monday. We'll stay online during the day tomorrow for as long as power lasts, then hunker down inside two small closets (the only windowless spaces in the house) for the night. We'll check in again after the storm as soon as we can.

Lori Lancaster | September 10, 2017
Thanks for the updates Scott. We've been worried for you and checking updates on the storm's path. It is good to know that you are prepared :) Stay safe.

Scott Hardie | September 10, 2017
Kelly and I opted to go to a shelter. The cat will survive the storm but might die of a heart attack from the stress.

First casualty of the storm: I drove into a lowered metal gate, cracking the windshield and putting a nasty scrape across the roof. Kelly was planning to drive that vehicle to Illinois later this month, and now probably can't, so she's pissed.

I'm just glad we have a safer roof overhead for the storm. The wind and rain are picking up and sirens are sounding, so we were almost out of time to exercise the option. I'm soaked and cranky but ready to survive.

Scott Hardie | September 10, 2017
The local news has been on non-stop since we arrived. I am amused at how many local businesses are advertising big sales "this weekend only!" Something tells me they're going to be disappointed by the turnout.

Scott Hardie | September 10, 2017
Pro: The shelter still has power and wi-fi. We're not consigned to the dark.

Con: The air conditioning broke. It's hot now but nothing compared to what tomorrow will bring.

Pro: They're serving us three hot meals a day. Considering we scarcely had time to pack some Ritz crackers and peanut butter and didn't expect to eat more, it's like a four-star restaurant.

Con: We own no air mattress. My bed tonight will be two folded blankets on top of a half-inch of foam padding. I cannot tell you how much I dread waking up in pain.

Pro: All of the families here with us are either nice or quiet. Both suit me fine.

Con: It smells like a vet's office on a rainy day, and the dogs never ever stop barking. I'm getting used to it, but I have no choice.

Pro: The staff and National Guard are working very hard to keep us safe and reasonably comfortable. I am so grateful to them.

Pro: The storm has dramatically weakened. It's down to a Category 1 or 2 now, which is basically nothing in Florida. I expect little in the way of damages.

Pro: All of my fear is gone. My biggest worry is how much pain I'm going to be in when I wake up, not whether I'm going to wake up. It's liberating.

Scott Hardie | September 11, 2017
Checking in after the storm. We are sore but fine.

Scott Hardie | September 11, 2017
Also: We own an air mattress. I never think of it because Kelly uses it for camping and I almost never see it. Holy hell do I wish we had brought it. Last night hurt.

Erik Bates | September 11, 2017
Glad to hear you're all safe. And I apologize for what was likely yet another annoying text message in a sea of messages you were already getting.

Samir Mehta | September 11, 2017
[hidden by author request]

Scott Hardie | September 12, 2017
Thanks for the messages. If I sounded at all snarky or angsty about the shelter conditions, believe me, I was definitely glad to be alive, and worried for anyone else in Irma's path who wasn't so lucky.

There's only minor damage to our house (a rip in one screen), but the power is out, and judging from the conditions on our street, it's likely to be out for days at least. The power lines run through the branches of a felled tree in our neighbor's yard, but they're snowbirds who live elsewhere in the country right now, so they can't clear it. Also, the transformer on the pole by our house apparently caught fire and burned during the storm, so it will require full replacement.

We're keeping somewhat cool at night with all of the windows open, which is mildly annoying thanks to the noise made in the morning by the roosters and goats owned by our other neighbor, but it's the best we can do. Having a swimming pool to cool off in, even without a working pump and filter, is a blessing. We're waiting for our offices to re-open and working remotely with friends in the meantime. I'm on Funeratic today but likely to be sporatic for a week or more until power is restored.

Steve West | September 12, 2017
Awesome news about your safety and (semi-) minimal damage. Good to hear from you, my friend.

Scott Hardie | September 12, 2017
Estimated day for power to be restored: September 22.

I have no words.

Scott Hardie | September 12, 2017
We did suffer more damage from the storm tonight. You might have seen a meme on Facebook advising people to place baggies of water in their freezers before the storm hit. We did that, and they melted, and they leaked. We came home tonight to a flooded kitchen and warped cabinet wood. That's what we get for trusting stuff shared on social media, I guess.

Erik Bates | September 13, 2017
Oh damn. Insult to injury, right?

I suppose the tip would work for shorter-term power loss?

Scott Hardie | September 14, 2017
That tip worked for friends of ours. It might have worked if our baggies weren't the cheap leaky kind, or if we had taken them out sooner in anticipation of possible trouble. I dunno.

We did make one other mistake. Kelly was intent on storing the patio chairs in the pool, having seen online that it was a safe place to store them. I expressed my doubts that it was necessary since we had plenty of room inside the house, and my fear that they would rust, but she swore they were weather-proof. Well, guess what: They rusted. Only the outside of each chair is weather-proofed; the inside of each tube-shaped segment of the frame is not. When we raised them out of the pool, they dribbled bright orange rust-water out of the holes in the frame, all over the pool and the patio. Stupid Facebook. I'm done taking hurricane-prep advice from social media.

The "September 22" estimate that I mentioned above is FPL's final deadline to reconnect every last household in the state. Most people are getting connected well before that date, but so far not us. It's only been four days without power but it feels like forty. We lie awake all night sweating and turning over. We take freezing showers in the dark. Our house is starting to reek from the rotting food.

Kelly is scheduled to drive to Illinois alone this weekend, and she has barely slept an hour each night this week, so we got a hotel room in downtown Bradenton tonight at a semi-posh historical building overlooking downtown. We almost always stay in hotels out of necessity when we're exhausted on the road and don't have time to appreciate them, but checking into this one merely for comfort's sake is a great feeling, like we're having a special treat. She's starting to nod off as I type this, and I hope that she gets the sleep that she needs before the trip. (Today, we replaced the cracked windshield and updated the registration on the expiring plates, so the van is good to go when she is.)

Tomorrow morning, we finally take out the rotting trash with the first trash collection since the storm, and then I pray that the power comes on before my weekend starts in earnest. I've been keeping my sanity by charging my devices during the workday and then using a mobile hotspot on my phone at night to go online, but come Saturday, in an empty hot dark house by myself with no charge for my devices, I might go insane.

Scott Hardie | September 16, 2017
Home at last!

Our power came on around 10am today. I didn't find out until I came home to check on the house around 5pm, and I didn't really get home for good until about 10pm. An old friend with a spare bedroom took me in, and it was a relief to have somewhere comfortable to sleep and surf the web and catch up with him.

That was 5.5 days total without power, in the Florida summertime heat. It was miserable and I hope I never have to go through that again. There's a million things I still have to do, but for now it's good just to be home.

Erik Bates | September 18, 2017
I'm glad you're back up and running, and even more-so glad that you both made it through the storm relatively unscathed.


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